Valerie Lowe, Student of the Month
MARIETTA, OHIO— Valerie Lowe seized the opportunity that a change in circumstances afforded her, giving her the chance to pursue a long-held dream of going to college. Her desire and dedication to her aspirations have moved her to the head of the class as Washington State College of Ohio’s (WSCO) Student of the Month.

Lowe had a fulfilling career as a paraprofessional aide for Fort Frye School District, but when her position was reduced to part-time, she saw it as her opportunity to earn a degree that would allow her to be more involved in the classroom. “I have always enjoyed working with kids and education is of utmost importance to me,” Lowe acknowledged. “Getting the opportunity to work with kids and having the ability to shape their future would be an honor.”

For Lowe, it was never a question of if, but when she would enroll in college. “I am a first-generation student and going to college has always been a dream of mine,” she confirmed. She said her family has served as her source of motivation. “I want to show my children that regardless of barriers, they are capable of achieving their dream.”

Encouragement also came from friends working in the field. “I have many friends who are in education. They have pushed me to follow my dreams and given me encouragement all along the way.” Her greatest inspiration for pursuing a career in teaching however, came when she was a young girl in elementary school. “My favorite teacher as a child was Mrs. Martin, at Reno Elementary. She had such a way of making every child feel important and special. The way she taught was not traditional and she allowed her students to be themselves.”

A member of the official honor society of two-year colleges, Phi Theta Kappa, Lowe has spent the last two years carefully managing assignments while successfully balancing family life. “When I decided to go back, I made the personal decision to never have to miss something for school, class or [an] assignment,” Lowe explained. “I never wanted my professors to think of me as a mom going back to school, but rather as a successful student who was serious about pursuing my degree.”

The high standards she holds for herself, have garnered the attention of her classroom instructor and advisor, Associate Professor Ashleigh Pennock. “Valerie always submits her best work,” affirmed Pennock. “She is an example of a student who truly understands the value of her education, and that she will get out of it what she puts into it.”

The mom of four seems to be doing it all without sacrificing anything, including cheering on her kids at their sporting events. “There have been moments where I was sitting at a basketball or baseball game doing homework,” Lowe confessed. “Rather than miss out on my kids’ activities I just pull double duty. It’s about finding a balance or learning to make something work.”

For those times when she needs a little extra push to keep going, she finds encouragement in a quote from Jane Goodall. “If you really want something, and really work hard, and take advantage of opportunities, and never give up, you will find a way.”

Lowe is slated to graduate in May with plans to immediately enroll at Western Governors University where she will pursue her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Her long-term goal is to teach locally and offers inspiring words to others considering college. “Deciding to go back to school means that you have to be diligent in your studies. You must acknowledge that this is but a brief moment in time to help you reach your goal. Stay committed and allow this time for yourself.”